Explore local history treasures online

Digitized maps, atlases, yearbooks, newspaper photos and more are now available to view and download from the Hennepin County Library.

Thousands of historical treasures are more accessible to researchers, educators, students and history enthusiasts, thanks to work by Hennepin County Library staff to digitize the Special Collections. Now available anytime, from anywhere – no library card required – patrons can browse materials from 34 digitized collections related to the history of Minneapolis and Hennepin County.

Find the materials at www.hclib.org/digitalcollections.

View, search or download historic documents

The collections can be searched or browsed. All of the content can be viewed online and downloaded. With a few exceptions, access to the content is free, as long as credit is given to Hennepin County Library.

“There’s a lot of color and variety in these collections; they’re very visual,” said Ted Hathaway, Special Collections, preservation and digitization manager for Hennepin County Library. The materials, he said, include digitized files of artifacts such as theater programs, posters, business trade cards and editorial cartoons.

Many of the collections also cover fairly recent history, including the Hennepin County Yearbook Collection, which holds yearbooks from schools in Minneapolis and Hennepin County, covering classes from 1890 to 1977.

Diaries, letters and manuscripts are in the mix too, but the 21 digital photo collections may be the most eclectic. They showcase everything from Minneapolis musicians and orchestras in 1930s and ’40s to neighborhood buildings and street scenes from the early 20th century into the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

“We’re encouraging anyone who wants to learn more about our community – how people have lived, worked and played here – to browse these digital collections,” Hathaway said. “They won’t disappoint.”

Digitized collection continues to grow

Library staff, interns and volunteers add new items to the collections every week, including content from partners such as the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin History Museum.

The Library’s digitization work is funded by Friends of the Hennepin County Library, with additional support from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

“Launching these new digital collections is just the beginning,” Hathaway said. “Take a look at them now, and be sure to check back for more.”